You may not know the name, but FIA Card Services is among the largest issuers of credit cards in the world. But bigger isn’t always better.
Do you have a Bank of America credit card? If so, you probably have an FIA credit card – they are BofA’s wholly-owned subsidiary for credit cards. Many regional banks and retailers also outsource their credit cards to FIA. So even if you aren’t with BofA, there’s still a good chance you carry one of their cards.
Not every FIA card is a bad deal, However many of them have qualities which are not so appealing, to put it nicely. Here’s are the biggest complaints I’ve heard on the forum:
Complaint #1: Sneaky rewards program
A good chunk of them use WorldPoints, which offer a terrible redemption value when redeeming a lower amount of points.
For example, if you cash out 2,500 points you would probably expect to get 1 cent per point and hence, a $25 value, right? Well with the WorldPoints program you would only get half that – $12.50. The conversion does get better the higher up you go, but it takes at least 25,000 points to get $0.01 worth per point.
Complaint #2: Feeling lost in the herd
Many rant about the customer support – or lack thereof – from FIA credit card services. If I were to discuss them all, this post would be longer than Encyclopedia Britannica. However to sum it up, you see a lot of people saying the customer services is not very accommodating. For example, requests for a one-time waived late fee, lower interest rate, etc. may be a dead-end.
That being said, over the past couple years I personally have noticed a huge improvement when it comes to the FIA Card Services Bank of America division. Since I don’t use their card regularly I can’t say I have a great deal of interaction with them, but when I have had to call customer service I was always greeted promptly by an American rep who seemed to be well trained/knowledgable.
Complaint #3: No free lunch
It’s not that the interest rates or signup offers are exorbitantly high, but rather they are just middle of the road.
The highest cash offer I have seen to apply for a BofA card is only $100 and that was a “special invitation” or so they say. If you go on the Bank of America website you will see the bonus on a given card (and that’s if there even is a bonus) will typically be only $50.
The balance transfer offers are also a big yawn. Getting 12 months at 0% isn’t “bad” but it’s doesn’t even compare to the 18 to 21 month offers you see from Citi, Discover, and Chase.
Complaint #4: “A rather antiquated website”
When you login to manage your account, don’t expect anything amazing. For example here’s a recent forum comment from JenB to give you an idea why the website is not exactly an award winner:
“Back to the lameness of the website. You cannot set up any alerts on the FIA Card Services site. You cannot e-mail messages to them. You have to call and go through a BUNCH of prompts before you can ever speak to a live person – and then you get someone with a heavy accent.”
That being said, the website is usually uncluttered and free of ads, which is a positive that’s worth pointing out.
Complaint #5: Alleged unauthorized credit card payments
Have a bank account with money in it, but not paying your credit card bill? Well according to some allegations, payments have been involuntarily made in some circumstances.
On Debt Consolidation Care there is an article (followed by many comments) which allege “FIA is reported to have taken out money from consumer accounts without their authorization.” What follows are stories/comments which claim FIA Card Services tapped a customer’s bank account to pay off their credit card bill without their consent.
That being said, the majority of these complaints are a couple years old. If it is happening, my guess would be that authorization might have been given via the fine print agreements with the customer’s bank and/or credit cards. Either way, the simple way to avoid this alleged problem would just be to pay your darn bill, right?
But there is a silver lining…
Despite all the rants about FIA credit cards, there are some positives worth pointing out:
- The Fidelity cards (for Fidelity accountholders) offer high cash back and jeffysdad, a Centurion Member of the forum, mentioned “Whenever I call customer service during regular business hours I get to speak to someone in the United States right away.” Because Fidelity is a respected brokerage firm and their reputation is on the line, you can bet they crack the whip on FIA to ensure there’s a nice level of service.
- In addition to the card above, there are others with good rewards, too. For example, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Visa Signature does not use those ugly WorldPoints and instead gives straight cash back.
Conclusion? An FIA credit card isn’t always a bad thing. You just need to be aware of the drawbacks which plague many of them.
This article was written or last updated November 12, 2013